In a recent article by Psych Central, a new study conducted by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) revealed that unspoken or unclear rules are especially difficult for ADHD children to understand. It showed that ADHD children often have a hard time seeing when a situation’s tone changes, like from play-time to test-time. Researchers think this is part of the reason ADHD children are often labeled as “trouble-makers” or called out for inappropriate behavior.
How clear, explained rules help ADHD children
The underlying issues for ADHD children is that they don’t see the subtle nuances or changes in situations. So it’s difficult for a child with ADHD to recognize or understand why it’s breaking the “rules” in a situation; for example, let’s say the class goes from play-time to quiet-time, but an ADHD child may not see the change, they may continue to play and then get in trouble. This is all because it wasn’t fully explained to them that it’s time to calm down, that play-time has ended.
So, how do teachers and parents help this? By explaining it to ADHD children.
“So, we are not relying on them to identify what the conditions are, but we are actually explicitly telling them: this is what you will be rewarded for. And we also need to tell them when we are no longer going to reward them for that.” –Professor Gail Tripp, Director of the Human Developmental Neurobiology Unit at OIST
In the study, it was revealed that when someone specifically laid out the unspoken changes for ADHD children, the children understood what was happening and adjusted their behavior. This shows that they know how to change their behavior, they just don’t see when they need to.
It’s not spoiling them
Explaining the rules clearly and making wiggle room for those with a disorder like ADHD isn’t spoiling them, it’s leveling the playing field. It’s giving an ADHD child the chance to excel and adjust to an environment, kids without ADHD just don’t often need that extra help to do so. It was also found that rewarding correct behavior helps ADHD children start to recognize changes in “rules” more easily. The rewards are only until an ADHD child gets acclimated, you slowly wean them off the rewards for the best results. Being clear and rewarding good behavior are great ways to parent anyway, but it’s especially helpful for ADHD children.
For more information about helping ADHD children succeed, check out Seven Stars.